Following is a transcript of a teach-in held last November in Berkeley by a coalition od organizations whose agenda seems to be somewhere to the left of Pohl Potism and Ulrike Meinhofism. Improbably, the "Palestinian Youth Network" enlisted the help of gay people and Filipino students who somehow decided they ought to be enemies of Israel.
Of course everyone understands that the Filipinos are victims of the sinister international Zionist conspiracy. This hate-Israel fest was therefore announced in the web log of the "BAYAN-USA-NORCAL" a Filipino radical student organization. The sponsors of this "Palestine Youth Network" include the usual hate organization. Who pays for events such as these??
A list of sponsoring organizations:
Al Awda – The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Anak Bayan East Bay, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), BAYAN USA, The Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (BACEIA), General Union of Palestine Students SFSU (GUPS), Justice for Palestinians San Jose, NorCal Friends of Sabeel, Muslim Student Association Berkeley (MSA), Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT), San Francisco Women in Black, Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG), Students for Justice in Palestine Berkley (SJP), United States Palestinian Communities Network (USPCN)
The participants make no attempt to hide the fact that the goal of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment Sanctions) movement is to end Israel. Not to end the occupation of land conquered in 1967 or to bring peace, but to bring about the "end of Zionism:"
There is also a McCarthyite-Stalinist naming of names: artists and activists who took the "wrong" approach, and are obviously guilty of "right-deviationism" or some other sin.
These people, the advocates of BDS, are not interested in any peace process. They declare:
Read and judge for yourself.
Teach in at UCB
Monday, November 29, 7:00pm
11/29/10 – The Palestinian Youth Network: “The Only Peace That Israel Wants is the Last Piece of Palestine: The Liberation of Our Land and People is Non-Negotiable”
00:00 my name is Loubna… The first thing I want to do is welcome everyone. Thank you all for coming. I think tonight will be a great panel - hopefully with a fruitful conversation among all of us. And before we start ild like to give thanks to all who made tonight’s event possible. First the organizers SJP who helped us get the venue. Second all of our co-sponsors: Al Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Anak Bayan East Bay, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), BAYAN USA, The Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (BACEIA), General Union of Palestine Students, Justice for Palestinians San Jose, NorCal Friends of Sabeel, Muslim Student Association Berkeley (MSA), Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT), San Francisco Women in Black, Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG), Students for Justice in Palestine Berkley (SJP), and the United States Palestinian Communities Network (USPCN). And of course The Palestinian Youth Network which is hosting the event. Secondly I’d like to give thank to Gazi (?) who is our computer-tech tonight. We’re actually on live feed and we have eight viewers thus far with us in the virtual web who are going to be on live chat with us this evening. We actually have a really great panel, young organizers from the Bay Area with us and I would like to thank them all for joining and for ? tonight’s conversation. So, the ? Event is to join the Palestinian Youth Network for the International Day of Solidarity for the Palestinian people.
And the title is, “The only Peace that Israel wants is the last piece of Palestine: The Liberation of Our Land and People is Non-Negotiable.” The reason we picked this title is because we as a young Palestinian generation trans-nationally in our homeland Palestine and all over the world are facing a crucial moment in terms of the liberation struggle of our people; the continued annexation of Palestinian lands; torment and harassment of Palestinian civilians inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the treatment of second class citizens of Palestinians inside 1948 Palestine; the continued alienation of Palestinians of the Diaspora and in refugee camps who are completely being alienated from the negotiations process and they constitute over 70% of the Palestinian population worldwide. And what we have been seeing recently is continued faulty peace processes, continued faulty negotiations that continue to corner the Palestinian people and push them in to concessions for their rights - and their rights which we’re here today to defend through the premise of international law and through other avenues.
To share the spirit with which this event was coordinated, I want to talk to you a little bit about the Palestinian Youth Network and read a small segment from our second year anniversary which was this November: The Palestinian Youth Network is a transnational organization of young Palestinians between the ages of 18 and 35. We are in over 33 countries including the entirety of the Palestinian homeland and here in the United States - we have a Palestinian Youth Network Bay Area Chapter. This November was our second anniversary and we really came together, it’s been four years since we’ve sort of been culminating the process of founding the Palestinian Youth Network and we really came together as a generation that was tired of being pushed to the side when it came to discussing the future of our people and the future of our struggle; tired of being silenced; tired of being beaten in to submission by Zionist forces; and being treated as labor and work horses by our communities and all other ?. And we wanted to sort of come together to discuss the varying challenges and diversities and resources that we have as young Palestinians and to think of a way that we can consolidate our efforts, unite our voices and revitalize a voice for Palestinian people that was based on anti-colonial politics, that was based on justice and that was based on equity for our people and for all marginalized and displaced people across the globe. So, this was a statement that was written for our second year anniversary and I wanted to read it because I think it shares a little bit about, in which the spirit that it was put together:
“David Ben Gurion and Zionists of the World:
Indeed, the old may die but the young.... we will never forget! We will never forget what our eyes may not have seen, and what our feet may not have ever touched. We will never forget the smell of our lands on an early morning, or the sound of bulldozers, gunshots, and airplanes attempting to beat us into submission. We will never forget the feeling of homelessness-statelessness, imprisonment and the world seasonally negotiating “what to do with the Palestinians” as if we were sheep being herded. You, in all of your practice of ethnic cleansing may indeed succeed in destroying what was once whole in our homeland and erasing markers of our livelihoods from the streets of your colony- so continue, but know this; amongst us Palestinian youth of the world.... vivid in our consciousness, engrained in our memories and in scripted in our wounds is what Palestine looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds like. We are not ashamed to dream because we do not do so alone. We, are building to connect our dreams and desires as a new generation and to holistically enable our generations dreams for a free Palestine to converge to theory, later to ideology, later to activism, and later to a daily praxis of justice and liberation that is inevitably achievable. Yes, we will return to all of historic Palestine. We will not subscribe to what your strategies have attempted to do to our people and movement. We will not see our brothers and sisters as the enemy, and we will not allow demoralization and apathy to push us into complicity. We will remain unwavering in our principles and steadfast on principles of justice, liberation, equity, self-determination and return for our people and all marginalized, displaced and disenfranchised people in the world. This is the movement of the people, and the people have spoken. Memory is one thing you cannot take away from us, and it is our memory that provides the impetus for alternative possibilities for our future. So as the old dies, we will bury them with our tears, our graciousness and for some- our anger; but as for us.... we choose how, what, and when to remember and we choose to remember that Palestine is worth the fight!” http://www.pal-youth.org/
7:27 So, the reason I share that is because I think that its important for young people, for young organizers, wherever we may be in the world, to think about where we situate ourselves within social justice movements, where we situate ourselves within the struggle for liberation, the struggle for rights and freedom and I think its’ specifically important for us to read this statement in the context of what today’s event is about because the Palestinian struggle - now 62 years, almost 63 years since the initial displacement of the Palestinian people and continued occupation of the homeland includes a lot more complications, and a lot more forces at play and new frameworks of oppression that we are struggling as a young generation in combating because these frameworks work to fragment us ideologically, geographically and in all other ways and inhibit our rights to collective grassroots movement building. And so this is why today when we talk about solidarity and today when we talk about our role as young people, we really wanted to have a critical self reflective discussion and a fruitful way of thinking about what can our role be, how can we change the frameworks with which we have been organizing, how can we make them more effective and how do we continue to make sure they’re accountable to the people who are most marginalized and how do we continue to situate justice at the center of all of our activism. With that I’d like to introduce our speakers for this evening – we’re going to be talking about , sort of the frameworks and their personal insights and experiences on solidarity and activism and cross movement building.
Nadeen El Shorafa here who’s with the Palestinian Youth Network
Shoaib Kamil who’s a member of Students for Justice in Palestine – Berkeley and who’s also a graduate student here at Berkeley
And we have Armael Malinis who is with Anak Bayan East Bay and Bayan USA
So, that’s it. (Applause)
9:38 Nadeen El Shorafa - Palestinian Youth Network: I want to start of on the issue of solidarity ? us all.. (sound improves) I see solidarity in two different ways. There’s sort of a power solidarity and joint struggle and I’m going to explain them both how I see it. Power dynamics is central to these different definitions I want to talk about when it comes to solidarity. The first one which I call Power Solidarity is folks who have a lot of power in society in terms of class, race, gender and sexuality. So, for example, a heterosexual white male, upper class white male is someone who has power in our society. And a lot of folks who fit those identities are in solidarity with the Palestinian people. And then I see something called Joint Struggle. Joint Struggle are folks on race, class, gender and sexuality who experience a lot of struggle depending on how they identify. And the term Joint is key here. They struggle jointly with the Palestinian people. Because the Palestinian people suffer according to race, class, gender and sexuality . The problem area is in this power solidarity, is folks who have a lot of power who tend to not have a justice centered approach to solidarity. So, in other words, they take up space from those who’ve experienced the most injustice.
Does that make sense? So, that could be very, very problematic cause if your solidarity is justice centered - you put both who’ve most experienced injustice and fighting for justice at the center of your solidarity work. So, Palestinians are not waiting for the white messiah, they’re not waiting for the avatar - if you’ve seen the movie - to infiltrate and save us all from our backwardness. That’s not what we’re looking for. And that’s not solidarity because if you don’t have justice at the center where those who experience injustice are at the center of your solidarity work, that’s not solidarity. You’re just playing on the power dynamics and that is not solidarity, that’s not putting the voice of the voiceless at the center. And that’s very, very problematic and I see it playing out today here in the Bay Area. On the other hand, this term joint struggle – and I would like more folks to start speaking of solidarity in terms of joint struggle especially folks in this room, is a lot of different communities, here we have Anak Bayan, SJP who are folks from communities of color who experience different types of injustices similar to that of Palestinians and that’s why we’re joint struggle with each other. I’d rather use the word joint struggle in solidarity because of all the negative words, implications that come with the word solidarity that power solidarity that I was talking about. So, that’s how I view solidarity in those two different frameworks. And something that extremely important and I know its not talked about as much when we have these conversations is I want to (?) is the economy of Palestine right now because if we stick to these power dynamics in terms of looking at the other or even calling them the other, or them those Palestinians as weak, as backwards, not competent – we begin to use the charity framework to support the Palestinians. And the problem with Palestinians today is the dependency on aid – on foreign aid – whether from NGO’s, from the IMF, from the World Bank, from other countries. So, with that alone, 80% of the GDP is dependent on foreign aid. So let me take you a few steps back – tell you a little bit about the economy in a very, very short time period. Since the occupation of 1967 the economy, the Palestinian economy was not really separate, so you’re not going to find any statistics on Palestine between ‘67 and the Oslo Accords. It’s all through the ICBS , the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics -what was called a one-sided Customs Union. Customs Union, for example like the European Union is a Customs Union - where they try to work collectively for a more efficient economy - to have similar tariffs for other commodities from different countries coming in to those countries. Now in Palestine, it’s a little complicated but we need to talk about it. Toward the Palestinians it’s called the one-sided Customs Union instead of just a Customs Union because Israel controlled everything that came in to the Palestinians. So much so, that 90% of imports for the Palestinians were coming from Israel – between ’67 and ’87, and in to the ‘90’s. So, imagine 90% of import is coming from Israel. So during that time period the Palestinians were dependent on Israel for its economy to thrive. It wasn’t really thriving.
Come the 90’s – and I’m just going through this history so that we can have a little bit of a context – come the 90’s, the Oslo Accords which really, really pushed the Palestinians even further back towards their liberation - the one-sided Customs Union continued and we see a new dynamic coming up and that’s the NGO-zation of the occupied territories, of Palestine and a new class forming with the NGO’s that came about. So we’re still dependent, Palestinians, on Israeli imports - in fact most of imports coming in especially from Gaza is coming from Israel. The rest of it is money coming from foreign aid and a new class that developed when the Oslo Accords were signed, was the Palestinian Authority class and the class that thrived on this foreign aid. So, we have this new NGO non-profit class making money off of the money coming in through NGOs and through foreign governments and through the IMF and the World Bank. The problem with that is the way the aid was coming in was not to support the infrastructure and institutions that since ’48 up to the 90’s, we’re not allowed to be bilked by Palestinians. Business licenses - Palestinians weren’t allowed to have business licenses. Again no control over our economy whatsoever since imports were coming only from Israel – 90% of it.
What they were funding, most of these NGO’s was state building and democracy – quote unquote. So the money that the Palestinians thought were coming in to supposedly build a sovereign state sometime in the future wasn’t coming for infrastructure and institutions, cause what the IMF, the World Bank and the NGOs found is that we’re in an emergency situation here, the poverty line is still high. We just need to do emergency relief and funding under the context of state building.
So again instead of focusing on infrastructure, what they were focusing on is building a strong power structure around Mr. Arafat - a very strong Palestinians Authority. And a lot of money was going into the Saudis, a lot of the folks in the PA, so a lot of the corruption, so instead of transparency, focusing on transparency and building institutions and infrastructure were focusing on building the strong power structure with no transparency and the rising corruption and a lot of funds going to folks in the PA, specifically – and this is well documented and I can tell you where to read it - specifically for Fatah. So, NGO’s were responsible 1) for the dependency of the Palestinian economy - on others, not themselves; 2) for funding the occupation because instead of looking at the human rights abuses that were occurring on the ground, several of the Israeli policies occurring on the ground, that’s stopping a lot of this infrastructure and institution building, were focusing on this state building, quote/ unquote democracy and sending money to this Palestinian Authority. So, NGO’s are complicit in the funding of the occupation. The settlements that continue to be built – just today 130 were approved – new settlements were approved in east Jerusalem - this was just today; the checkpoints that continue.
So, instead of these NGO’s and these foreign governments looking at a lot of these challenges that are stopping the Palestinians from living and from being self-sufficient and sustainable, they’re ignoring these things, the settlements, and the checkpoints. For example the education level, the Palestinians had a higher education level. Now this is decreasing. I know the SJP did some events recently highlighting how the checkpoints are preventing several students from going to school. 64% of students from Al-Najah University talked about experiencing harassment at the checkpoints. And more than 90% missed classes as a result of harassment at the checkpoints. The wall is another thing; the siege of Gaza is another thing – not allowing building of infrastructure. You might have heard there’s a mall being built in Gaza. We have a beautiful mall being built in Gaza. Another thing – the problem with the NGO’s is putting money – again remember state building, democracy, all for special infrastructure – non-productive infrastructure like hotels, restaurants, something that’ll not sustain the economy of the Palestinian people. This is money that because the World Bank is (?) is the Palestinians,
‘You have to do this and this and this with it’. Interestingly enough I was just reading today that Gaza is experiencing a growth in its economy - very little - about 16%. And the West Bank, which as you know the US is putting a lot of money training the Palestinian Authority security services against its own people; giving a lot of money to Salam Fayad, the Prime Minister who said we’re going to have a flourishing private sector, a flourishing economy in the West Bank. Interestingly in the West Bank the economy only grew about 9%. And the only reason that Gaza economy grew about 16% is because of the tunnels. That’s how funny our economy is ourselves booming, digging holes to Egypt, buying some commodities and bringing them back and selling them. That where the number 16% comes from. So whereas the first one is the State Building, the second problem is funding the occupation and the third problem when I mentioned statistics in the West Bank and Gaza is funding the split between the West Bank and Gaza – between the different parties. They’re funding it - because one, funding is going mostly for Fatah. Funding is going to build the special infrastructure projects mostly in the West Bank and few in Gaza. So we need to be very, very careful when we talk about solidarity; when we talk about quote unquote charity; when we talk about supporting the Palestinians financially in this way. Be very careful how we speak about that because the current trend that is going on right now, is not being dependent on Israel, because it controls all entry and exit points and air space, but also independent of foreign aid and NGO’s. That’s number one. And I’m (?) to (?) it real fast to those who try to resist these things that I’m going on. And by the way those things that I talked about – the NGO’s , the non-profits, one of the biggest problems to them is it diverts attention away from the goal of liberation to building a state that we can’t really build, to putting money towards anything working towards the peace process and normalization action – let’s sit down and have coffee and talk while you destroy my home. So, that’s another problem with non-profits. And that dynamic is not just specific to Palestinians. That dynamic, I see it here in the Bay Area with non-profits - in my personal opinion, I feel have taken away and I spoke about this before (?) Bayan to the Filipino community, taking away the struggle for liberation and institutionalizing it in these non-profits who now have to appeal to their funders and donors for how to spend that money (?) So those who are resisting these types of action, this second occupation supposedly we determined that. What we’re seeing is a rise in that type of silence, a lot of folks are resisting, a lot of folks in this room, globally and Palestinian.
And I’m just going to give a few examples. We’re seeing it more and more and more at the rate as you remember (?) in the 60’s and 70’s, we’re seeing something similar with the Patriot Act - the material support clause - we can talk about it later in the Q+A – using those directives which by the way started in (?) to silence resistant communities here in the United States and abroad. So, some examples, I don’t know if you guys heard, but in Chicago, in the tri-state area there’s about 6,7 activists, one of whom was Palestinian by origin were presented with subpoenas to appear before a grand jury. Now these subpoenas are not used anywhere else in the world except in the United States. And basically you have to show up. You’re accused of a crime you didn’t commit. And there’s no proof towards that this is the crime that you committed… So we’re going to present you with a subpoena, you have to appear before a grand jury and if you decide not to appear before a grand jury you’re going to be held in contempt and you can go to jail for several years. One of those folks is Hatem Abudayyeh who was a Palestinian activist with Arab American Action Network and also the United States Palestinian Community Network who a lot of us here in this room know very well. At the same time all of this is happening here in the United States to silence these folks, and this has happened this is not a unique case, its several cases. Similar things are happening in Palestine. For example during the US negotiating process – which is not really a peace process at all. In Silwan there’d been a lot rise in settlement attacks on the Palestinian people. So a lot of settlements, if you look at the terrain in Palestine are built on hills. So you have - some settlers are allowed to carry weapons – and we’re not talking about 9 millimeters or 20 millimeters. We’re talking about machine guns about this big. And if anyone has been there walking around with those machine guns pointed at children, pointed at folks (?). So, recently in Silwan a Palestinian was shot by an Israeli security guard from the settlement and clashes erupted. This was in late September of this year. Clashes have been erupting. What a lot of folks are noticing is that this is happening at the same time that the settlement moratorium ended. So a lot of the people there believe that this rise in settler violence is to show - we need security. Look at these crazy Palestinians who are throwing rocks at our machine guns. Look at them, we need to shoot them, we need to have these settlements, we need to have security around these settlements. So, taking the security language again, the rhetoric again, to put the blame back on Palestinians and away from the illegal settlements. So, that’s another example of something going on in Palestine.
Also in Medayin? – I don’t know if you’ve heard about this town in the West Bank, Silwan makes Jerusalem, Medayin one of the founders of the non-violent protest movement ? going there weekly, Abdallah Rahmeh, he was imprisoned. And several countries, countries, have wrote to the government of Israel ‘Please, this guy is a non-violent protester. We’ve met him, we’ve visited him, please let him go. And recently the government of Israel decided to extend the imprisonment of Abdallah Rahmeh.
So, non-violently with stones(?), just by organizing activism here in the United States, you’re seeing the attempt to silence all these voices. So, it’s becoming even more and more difficult. We’re talking about fighting Israel (?), fighting this foreign aid dependency and fighting our own governments that are attempting to silence our voices. So, this is the time where issues of joint struggle, and I really mean joint struggle – I don’t mean you have to come knock on my door to invite me to an event. I mean, I’m already at the event because I’m in a joint struggle with you. These things need to be happening more and more and more as these attempts to silence, as these ? forms of occupation are on the rise. The last thing that I wanted to mention after all of this is that at the center of our work is whether its through BDS, whether its through fighting the settlements, or home demolition, at the center of all our work has to be fighting against Zionism – has to be. Because the reason the settlement constructions continue, Foreign Minister Lieberman back in 2005 when Bush was talking about having a 2 state solution. People still use the word Judea-Samaria, the biblical term, so in other words they’re still going to occupy those settlements in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River and this is the logic of Zionism. And unless we focus all our organizing and activist energy fighting this logic or keeping it in our brains when we do organizing and BDS. BDS is a means to an end it’s not the end. Fighting against (?) home demolitions is a means to an end, it’s not the end. Giving water to the people of Gaza because 90% of their water is polluted is a means to an end, it’s not the end. The end goal is the end to Zionism that should be the end goal. And unless that is the focus and center of your activism and organizing when it comes to Palestine and joint struggle and solidarity then there’s a problem, because that really is the key to ending, or the goal to liberation also of Palestinians is the ending of Zionism. And it’s not just for the Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem, the Palestinians within Israel, the Palestinians in the Diaspora. It’s ridiculous to say I’m gonna give you a couple of F-16’s for you to just increase your moratorium on settlements for ninety more days. It’s ridiculous. We’re talking about people’s lives. Ninety more days you gotta stop sending people to build houses that are illegal to begin with. So this is a joke. So the reality of it is Zionism. Why this is continuing is because Zionism is being actualized and it’s succeeding. But I feel like with the new voices that we have today – with the movement and focusing on joint struggle that we’re beginning to counter this narrative of Zionism and promote our own narrative of justice and struggle.
So, the most important thing is not only to fund – and when I talk about funding and all that, not just to show the different areas of occupation but at the same time to talk about the need of conscious funding. So for example we need to build institutions and infrastructure that will help meet this end goal. Institutions and civil society organizations and grassroots organizations like the Palestinian Youth Network who are connecting Palestinians all over the Diaspora. So we can have a space at the negotiating table, to say sorry The Right of Return is not a negotiation. We’re not negotiating Right of Return. It’s either there or we keep fighting for it. So, conscious funding, conscious solidarity and joint struggle- putting justice at the center, the voiceless at the center, is how we should continue in our work with solidarity. Thanks.
31:30 Armael Malinis of Anakbayan-EB : So first of all I want to thank you all for inviting us and ? talk solidarity with all the folks in Palestine and all throughout ? countries. ? Armael Malinis with Anak Bayan East Bay. We’re a (?) student Organization here in Oakland and we are also are part of Bayan USA which is an alliance 14 different organizations across the country which is connected to Bayan Philipines which is an alliance of hundreds of organizations in the Philippines. So, again I’m honored to be here today share our story of how the struggle in the Philippines is connected to the struggle in Palestine and other third world countries. So just to piggyback off what Nadine was talking about, there are two things I want to focus on. The first thing is that in addition to a common shared struggle. Another thing I want to focus on – is there is a common enemy. Right? So, in the Philippines… So, common struggle and a common enemy. So, I want to talk a little bit first about the common enemy. Who is the common enemy and how do we identify who this is, right. And how we look at it, is to ask the questions “why”. Why is the United States funding the Philippine military to advance its agenda in the Philippines? Why is the United States funding Israel to advance its agenda in the Middle East? So, just to back up real quick – a lot of it is deeply rooted on the geo-political perspective of the United States, right. First and foremost the main reason that the United States is funding Israel is to gain access to oil in the Middle East which is tied in to the (?) crisis . So, just to get in puppet governments to make sure that they have the presence in the Middle East. The other thing – the Philippines. Why are they in the Philippines? The main reason is that the Philippines is a strategic geo-political military location to keep tabs of what is happening in Asia – so to keep tabs on Japan, China, Korea, especially right now they are starting a war with Korea and other Southeast Asian countries. So, thinking about those in terms of materially how does that manifest in terms of the interest of the United States.
And the reason why we call that the United States is that the same folks that are funding militarily and funding millions and millions of dollars. So, first and foremost is that it’s a strategic military location. Two is that there’s raw materials – rich raw materials in the Philippines. There’s gold, bromine, oil and natural gases all these corporations are siphoning up all these resources to advance profits. And three, it’s a dumping ground also for surplus goods which means in the Philippines – I don’t know if you’ve been in the Philippines. There’s hundreds and hundreds of malls. Everywhere you turn there’s a Shoe Mart in the Philippines where its mega malls left and right. And all these products from the first world come in to the U.S. knowing that people in the Philippines can’t even afford to buy rice, and they set up all these products in the Philippines. So that is the main reason, right. But particularly for the Filipino people - what is the common struggle as what Nadine was talking about – what is the shared struggle. In the Philippines there are about 94 million people and there are people living under poverty is 44% which roughly translates to like 40-41 million people living in poverty - less than $2 a day. So what happens is there are no jobs. The Philippines is land(?). So people don’t own land so they can’t cultivate land, they can’t grow their own food. So they have to go to the cities to look for work.
And they have to go abroad as well. So, many Filipinos leave the country every single day looking for work. Places like Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United States – becoming nurses, domestic workers, undocumented folks to look for work. At the rate of 3200 Filipinos leave the country every single day and it could be more. I think this fact is from 2009. And what ends up happening is they also work these extremely laborious, exploitive jobs to send money back home to the Philippines. And to touch on what Nadine was talking about with the tunnels and funding the economy of the United States - in the Philippines, what keeps the country afloat is remittances. So when people work tirelessly out here in the US or in other countries they send money back home and according to 2009-2010 statistics there are $14 billion dollars that are spent every single year to keep the country afloat. So, which means that there’s no jobs, there’s no resources, there’s actually no opportunities for folks in the Philippines they’ve got to go abroad – risk their lives to feed their families back home and all the resources or all the funding comes from other countries. In terms of education, just recently they slashed 1.1 billion Pesos in 2011 budget for 97 (?UC?). Its not just access to jobs, its education, its health care and the list goes on and on. While at the same time U.S. corporations and I want to emphasis U.S. corporations and European corporations, as well as Canada, Australia and all these different corporations, profit an extreme amount of profit. So according to some statistics that I found from 1999-2004 there were about 160% jump in profits in terms of corporations. So what does all mean right? So there’s conditions, there’s a common struggle, poverty hopelessness, joblessness.
What does that all mean? So, people have the right to resist. And if people do resist they’re met with repression, right? So, in the Philippines we also talk about puppet governments. How does that play out? What we call bureaucratic capitalism to reinforce the interests of the United States. And they dump in millions and millions of dollars to fund these military forces. For example, in 2005 and 2009 the Philippines received roughly $197 million from the United States to fund the military operation. The Philippines receives the majority of its arms and military equipment from the United States. And they also passed programs like (?) which translates to Operation Freedom Watch, which is basically a counter insurgency program for the armed forces of the Philippines. And they also have a visiting forces agreement in the Philippines which is basically an agreement where they receive technical support from the U.S. to crush any kind of resistance. And basically its joint exercises with the U.S. military. So, what does this mean for folks who are trying to resist? It means that there are rampant killings disappearances, kidnappings. According to some statistics, when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the former president was in power there were 1,188 state ordered victims of political killings – so these are random folks journalists priests, common folks, farmers that are fighting for their basic rights and their basic needs and they’re killed off - state-sponsored by the military.
Now you’re probably asking, ok, there’s a new presidency so, there’s a turn over in terms of power, so there’s hope, right – sort of what folks are saying here with Obama. Well, in actuality it’s only been a little over 100 days of President Benigno Aquino’s presidency and there are roughly about 17-20 political killings already, one of which about 2 days ago this brother named Leonardo, who was a botanist was killed, who was a fierce ecological justice person fighting for preservation of natural resources in the Philippines, right. To add to other examples, 43 health workers in Tarlac were wrongfully kidnapped and are still being detained without fair judicial process. Some of these are women and children. And actually a couple of them gave birth in prison. They were not given the opportunities and rights for a fair trial. Further examples of (?) corruption caused by the U.S. military funding is that there were 57 journalists in Maguindanao that were killed during elections because they were challenging the power that exists in that region. So what does this all mean? How does it translate to shared solidarity, shared struggle? Regardless of the slaughtering, the jailing of our people; whether they’re armed or not whether they’re children or church folks, workers, there’s a common history and a common shared struggle of exploitation. Although we’re bound by different oceans, different time frames the rampant attacks are extremely linked. So, when I say linked - what’s happening in the Philippines is very much connected to what’s happening in Palestine because there’s a common enemy as well. One of the main things I also want to emphasize is that it’s not just about going out to rallies or coming out to these events, it’s a lot more than that.
We need to really build a strong international solidarity with all communities that are impacted by US imperialism. We need to figure out creative ways, strategic ways to come together and go beyond just our (sectorial?) based issues. So, where we can figure out how to connect to the labor issues, with youth issues, with issues in the church, with issues of ecology, issues with students, altogether connecting it to this rampant growth of injustice, in terms of unequal distribution of resources. So, the main thing is, one, we have a common enemy. There’s a common shared struggle that we have. And just to paint a picture – bringing it back coming back home here. So, imagine putting it in terms of what we might understand here in the U.S. So imagine that we all live here on campus right. We all live here on campus? Imagine this is our neighborhood and someone from another state, city, or whatever, country – steals all our food. They steal all our resources. They put guns in to our baby’s heads. They put guns in to our mothers and fathers. They put us to work in really slave like, laborious conditions. They control our gardens, our water, -our rich natural resources while at the same time they’re out there living in the Berkeley Hills in lavish mansions and really being extravagant with their lifestyle. All the while people are suffering, hungry; many are killed in the process. What are people going to do? It’s resist. Repression breeds resistance. That’s why so many people in the Philippines and folks in Palestine and other third world countries that are impacted by U.S. imperialism is going through armed struggle as a resort to national liberation. So, with that said, there are resources that you can check out – (websites – hard to get down but can find through hbayanusanorcal.wordpress.com/ )
43:55 Shoaib Kamil who’s a member of Students for Justice in Palestine – Berkeley: I’m going to go into, take a step back it’s an International Day of Solidarity for the Palestinian People, so I want to talk a little bit about different frameworks within working for people, or with people of which I see solidarity as one. In particular I want to start off with humanitarianism. So, Nadeen talked a bit about the state of humanitarianism in terms of the Palestinian economy. Humanitarianism is the prevalent ideology of NGO’s, organizations like the Red Cross. And these organizations make little distinction between the oppressor and the oppressed. Red Cross in its mission statement says its impartial, neutral and independent irrespective of the people involved and the situation on the ground. Irrespective of the situation on the ground. So, for them who is responsible for inflicting crisis is not really important. For the humanitarian framework really what you have, is you have crisis and you have relief. In time of crisis we need to go get relief. Oh, here’s the next crisis, you need to get relief. It never attempts to deconstruct the structural reasons for the occurrence of such crisis. I would argue that humanitarianism doesn’t work for justice. And I think that what I’m’ going to talk about is how these different frameworks interact with the concept of justice particularly when it comes to Palestine. So, under this humanitarian umbrella you have these subgroups and one of which I would call the Peace or equivalent (?). And for this group of NGO’s, or people who are working for some cause the important thing is are things like dialogue - so, ‘if only both sides would talk to each other’ or ‘If only there was peace’. So in this there’s an implicit burden on the oppressed persons or the oppressed people to convince the oppressor that oh we are actually people. What does is accomplish for the oppressed to talk to the oppressor? I don’t see that it accomplishes very much. I think that historically in Palestine we’ve seen that it’s done little except make the oppressor feel better. In addition, it kind of drives equivalence between the resistance and oppression. So, if the only important thing is peace and not justice than it doesn’t’ matter whether the lack of peace is coming because of resistance to injustice or whether is coming because of an oppressor. It’s all the same. All we have to do is stop violence. This is what the Peace Process is doing.
The Peace Process isn’t trying to come up with a just answer to the Palestinian cause or what’s going on. It’s basically just as long as there is no fighting, then everything is ok. NGO’s like Nadeen talked about, which I would say is part of this humanitarianism structure - it really worked to build support for our structures that either exist or would be beneficial for those in power to (?) in Palestine. One of the most ridiculous things that I know about is that there’s an initiative of the Estonian government - the Estonian government has given 1 million dollars to the Palestinian Authority to implement (?). Basically, to set up electronic infrastructures so you can go online to get your driver’s license or your permit for this or your permit for that. This is bureaucratic capitalism at its finest. Instead of tackling root causes for oppression, you’re building all these ridiculous pieces of infrastructure of which there is not yet demonstrable need. So, then you have humanitarianism and then you have human rights. And the human rights framework is predicated on the idea that justice is basically just (?) rights. So, if we could enumerate all the particular rights that people should have, then all one has to do in order for there to be justice is to make sure those rights are happening. I think it’s a ridiculous framework. I think that human rights always creates exceptions for those in power. So, whether you’re violating human rights or not, it doesn’t matter - if you are the people in power.
The United States has a long history of violating human rights. The United States is still violating human rights. The United States commits torture, commits whatever but is never held accountable. So already there’s no accountability within this framework. In addition, what happens if this list of human rights is missing something? The UN Declaration of Human Rights which was written in 1948 does not include explicit right for example, for sexual freedom. (?) who was a sexologist, really sociologist – he wrote a long article in 1951 talking about how the UN Declaration of Human Rights instead of granting a right for sexual freedom actually has language that does the opposite. So, in article 29 it says that the rights listed here can be subject to limitations for the purposes of meeting the legitimate requirements of morality, public order and general welfare in a democratic society. So in other words, any of these rights could be limited If it’s necessary in order to have public order. In fact the word ‘morality’ being in here I think is the most objectionable. Morality is always used to limit freedom when it comes to sexual rights. So, because of this, I don’t think that we can rely on any numeration of human rights to grant justice or to be a framework within to work.
If this list of human rights is actually being granted to a people that does not necessarily mean that there is justice. I do think they are useful in that if you know that human rights are being violated clearly something is wrong. They’re just a baseline. But that is not the ultimate goal. That’s where solidarity comes in. Solidarity has to be based on sometime. And I’m not talking about solidarity in the critical theory sense, where it’s constructed by a symmetric relationship between two peoples right. Its one stands for the other. And I don’t think that’s really a just solidarity. The people who are oppressed and people who are working in solidarity with them have to realize that there’s a difference. I don’t have guns pointed at my head every time I walk from school to home like you do in Hebron for example. There’s a difference between me and somebody in Palestine, right.
And I think that’s really important to remember because one of the issues with solidarity is that solidarity not based on universal justice can result in appropriation or limitation or working toward selective justice. We have to be careful as people working in solidarity not to try to dictate the direction of movements of other people. In particular one of the things that Nadeen was talking about was BDS right. So the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions is originating from Palestinian civil society. They’re the ones who are asking those working in solidarity to boycott, to push for divestment and to push for sanctions against companies operating and profiting from injustice in Palestine. So, it’s important to look at the oppressed people we’re working in solidarity with for leadership. It can’t’ just be that oh, I think I’m working for freedom for Latinos and now I’m going to decide. This is how it’s going to happen. I’m going to decide. That I think is not an appropriate role for those working in solidarity. In addition I think that when not working for justice based solidarity, one potential thing that can happen is working for the glory of a particular ideology or a particular religion, or a particular political system. If I’m doing something just for the glory of communism maybe that’s not true solidarity. In my opinion, really what one should be working for is universal justice. And I think that this selectiveness is really common when it comes to Palestine. You see a lot of people working in solidarity for whom all of a sudden the question of Palestine is different from any other form, any other question that they may be working in solidarity for. So, I’m going to name some names. Regina Spektor – how many of you have heard of >Regina Spektor? So, Regina Spektor is this Indian artist, she’s originally Russian; she’s in New York whatever. She did a concert for Darfur, did a concert for Tibet, she did a fundraiser at the Bowery for Planned Parenthood, she did a thing for Haiti, but when it came to Israel, during Israel’s attempted obliteration of Gaza in 2009, she basically said that any criticism of Israel is “thinly veiled anti-Semitism.” So, this (?). We also have Libby Post who is a queer activist in New York, who wrote this infamous article called, “Israel, it’s the gay thing to do”, in which she’s a self identified queer activist says, “for the first time in my life I’m actually in full agreement with what the Israeli Armed Forces are doing”. This is of course during the invasion of Gaza. She asks in this article ironically, “What should Israel do – just bend over and take it?” So even her decision to selectively work for justice, she uses a homophobic metaphor despite being a quote unquote queer activist.
The last thing I’m going to say about solidarity is that more and more we have to understand that the power structure in the world is no longer making a distinction between non-violent and violent resistance. Nadeen talked about a few of these things. Armael talked about a few too. But, I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that for the power structure there is no distinction between violence and non-violence. You have the State Dept. calling WikiLeaks a terrorist organization. You have essentially these witch hunts happening through the use of the Grand Jury system. The Material Support Clause which Nadeen alluded to has basically made it so that even meeting with members of an organization that the U.S. State Dept. deems to be a terrorist organization is a crime. So, this distinction of violence and non-violence in terms of resistance, I think because the power structure is beginning to make less distinction between them that I think that in talking about solidarity, we also have to recognize that oppressed peoples have the right to resist by any means necessary - which is actually a part of being human rights (?) So to summarize, I just wanted to talk a bit about the different frameworks that I see people working under and to say that I don’t think we can’t rely on humanitarianism, NGO’s, human rights or solidarity based on anything except universal justice because that is the only way that we can bridge these connections between peoples and work for justice for everyone. Thank you.
58:18 Loubna: I think everyone will agree with me that was great. I’m going to give a couple of comments and ask some questions, then we’ll open it up to the audience. And I’m going to make them general, so you guys can choose which ones you want.
I think in all 3 of your presentations justice was sort of a central concept. Universal justice was sort of a central concept of how we’re trying to talk about effective solidarity, (?) solidarity, real solidarity with the Palestinian people and with all of our struggles globally. One of the things I wanted to ask about the concept of sectarianism and the politics of denunciation. b>So, right now in the current Palestinian solidarity scene internationally, it’s not as it was twenty or even forty years ago among Palestinian communities where our elder generations could barely put up a Palestinian flag in some countries because it was deemed illegal or representarianism and now Palestine’s become this hot, sexy topic all over the world and everyone going kaka, right. So, now we see a lot more forces and players claiming to be these representative groups or representative people. I represent the Palestinians or I represent Palestine because there’s so many different organizations and so many different frameworks of solidarity and the sectarianism that takes place between them really involves an element of the politics of denunciation. You are less effective because of this, you are less Palestinian because of this, you’re less Muslim because of this, you’re less Arab because of this and it really sort of inhibits us from being able to talk about holistic community building, holistic community work, solidarity work that centers justice at the center of our work. And so, I wanted to ask you guys how can we start to sort of negotiate the terms of justice among our allies, whether its Palestinian allies or allies in general - whether it has to do with Palestine or not and how do we negotiate those terms within the concept of justice centered activism and universal principals of justice and liberation. The second point that I wanted to raise is that Shoaib – actually all three of you touched on it also - Shoaib mentioned that right now we’re sort of living in a time in which the lines between the oppressor and the oppressed are even more blurry than before. And a lot of the organizations that claim to be non-partisan, we’re neutral, we’re not taking sides, we’re not going to talk about whether we’re pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, they sort of are taking an approach that falls in to a neo-imperial or neo-liberal framework of how we’re looking at struggles and social justice. And so, one of the things that’s really been complicated in our struggle, and a lot of third world struggles, particularly at this time, is sort of the civilizing aspect - the diplomatic aspect, of our oppressors. Of them coming to us and saying, ‘We’re not all that bad. We’re coming in a blue suit, we want you to come to the table and discuss things with us.’ And it’s really sort of pushing our struggle in to – pushing us in to a corner of coming to a table and normalizing the conditions in which we live in. That the conditions we live in are caused from a conflict; are caused from a war; are caused from some natural differences or some natural disagreements; or some natural fights over land among our people and so that power somehow gets lost in the power dynamics that you guys talked about. Get’s lost in the context in which we’re looking at the oppressed and the oppressor. You guys all spoke about that but what I would ask you is how do we as young people address it within the neo-imperial framework in which the oppressor doesn’t have the image of the man in the military suit. He has this image, or she has this image of our friend, our ally trying to come and help us.
1:03:00 Armael: Well, I guess in terms of the first question of the sectarian – first question, I think just to reframe the question itself. I would reframe in terms of asking the question for whom – for whom are you organizing for? And if you ask that question, things become a lot clearer - is it for the paid bourgeoisie, the landlord, is it for the corporations, is it the folks that are living in the settlements, is it the folks that are living comfortably while people are struggling and going through the checkpoints or is for a particular angle, right - I would say or whom, is it for the peasants, the workers, the mothers, the children that are having to live under these really harsh conditions. I think Just to reframe the debate and not get caught up in the different perspective or ways of how we can get segregated in terms of identity, in terms of religion, in terms of our issues of what sector we’ll be fighting for. I would pose the question for whom and the question and the answers become a lot clearer. Another thing too, is when you’re talking about in terms of reframing how resistance comes about whether or not it’s negotiating on the table or resisting in the street. I think the only answer to any kind of anti-imperialist or anti-resistance movement is organizing. That is the only thing that has changed history is to organize. Meaning, building a mass based movement of people - cross sector(al) youth, students workers, ecological crisis freedom fighters and women, queer folk, immigrants to build a mass based movement to address this issue. Now the other question is do you do it in legal terms or in not so legal terms. And I think you need both. I think you have to set up a table and be able to negotiate and be able and be able to talk about those terms but if folks are resisting in however they feel is necessary for their conditions, I think it’s just as right as folks organizing resisting in terms of legally. And to actually question for whom, - when you talk to the people most oppressed, the answer will be there.
1:05:29 Nadeen: On the first question the politics of denunciation and sectarianism, again I would echo what Armael said it’s not just for whom, but what is the goal? And for us, of course, the Palestinians, the end goal is fighting for international solidarity movement ? striving for ? together and towards patriarchy and towards ? These are ? That is our goal. Then, ……. (person recording leaves….)
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